By David Futrelle
Reddit’s worst misogynists just can’t stop attacking Katie Bouman, the 29-year-old MIT researcher who has inadvertently become their newest Woman to Hate on the Internet.
Her crime? Literally nothing beyond having her picture taken at a happy moment in her life.
She was one of the researchers who worked on developing the algorithms used to capture the first ever image of a black hole, and a photo of her reacting with delight to her team’s success circulated alongside the actual image of the black hole earlier this week. The photo of her inspired a brief burst of coverage about her role in the project, with some in the media crediting her as the person who’d written the code that enabled her team to generate the black hole image.
And that’s when the misogynists lost their shit, on Reddit and elsewhere, blaming her for stealing credit from the men on her team.
On Reddit, a thread in the UnpopularOpinions subreddit declaring that Katie Bouman should not be getting credit for the picture if [sic] the black hole turned out to be not-so-unpopular after all, garnering more than twelve thousand upvotes and generating nearly four thousand comments.
Countless other threads popped up in vast array of other subreddits, ranging from r/space to r/dankmemes, many of them contrasting her supposedly paltry work on the project with that of the man who allegedly “contributed 850,000 out of 900,000 lines of code” used to generate the image of the black hole.
Never mind that she never tried to take credit for anyone else’s work and in a Facebook post noted that “no one algorithm or person made this image, it required the amazing talent of a team of scientists from around the globe and years of hard work.”
Never mind that Andrew Chael, the guy the misogynists credited with doing the lion’s share of the work, quickly went on Twitter to denounce their attacks on Bouman and note that the algorithm they ultimately used “would have never worked without her contributions.” (He added that no, he had not in fact written nearly a million lines of code.)
Yet the misogynists just can’t stop talking shit about her, a woman who literally did nothing to them or the world other than doing her job well.
On Reddit’s worst hives of misogyny the reaction has been extreme, even by Reddit’s-worst-hives-of-misogyny standards.
On the Braincels subreddit, Reddit’s main forum for incels, I found more than thirty separate topics devoted to denouncing Bouman, with titles ranging from “Katie Bouman is a FRAUD: WOMAN TAKES CREDIT FOR BLACK HOLEALGORITHM” to “Fuck this women [sic].” She was described, variously, as a “bitch,” “the black hole c*nt” and simply as “a hole.”
After Chael stood up to defend her, Reddit’s incels were quick to denounce him as a “cuck” and a “numale” buttering her up in a desperate attempt to get laid. (In fact, as he pointed out in the very Twitter thread defending her, he’s gay.)
Over on the Men Going Their Own Way subreddit, the men who like to loudly insist that they simply don’t care about women at all any more also devoted something like thirty topics to the “black hole chick,” (I may not have found them all) including “Hi my name is Katie Bouman and I’m a fraud,” and “A woman wanting sole credit for the work of over 200.” And yes, they also denounced Chael as a “beta simp” and “probably a cuck virgin hoping that if he’s nice enough Katie will touch his pee pee” after he defended her on Twitter.
Normally for a post like this I would go through at least some of these threads in detail and extract some of the most revealing comments. But today, I just don’t have the patience. It’s Friday. Fuck it. I’ve browsed through a bunch of the threads and, well, it’s more or less the same old bullshit you’d expect from these reactionary assholes, only a lot more of it this time. Let them yell into the void this time. I’m fucking done right now.
And people wonder why women are reluctant to go into STEM fields.
EDITED TO ADD: There are so many topics on l’affaire Bouman in the Braincels and MGTOW subreddits alone that, well, here’s one browser window’s worth of the tabs I opened up for this piece, minus a bunch I’ve already closed. I have a bunch more tabs related to this post opened up in several other windows as well.
FWIW. I have nine separate windows open in Chrome right now and most of them have nearly this many tabs open in them. Even with most of the tabs suspended by a browser extension, I’m using 86% of my memory and went over 90% several times doing this post. I have a little bit of a tab problem.
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